Detroit’s Unidentified Dead: Operation UNITED

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Across the United States, major cities are faced with dozens, if not hundreds, of cases of unidentified decedents: Doe cases who, whether they are homicide victims or have died of other means, are people who may represent more than one of DPD’s cold cases: there are many missing-persons reports which could be resolved by matching the deceased to reports of the missing. The problem lies in a lack of readily available DNA evidence; until the mid-2000s, it was not standard procedure to retain such samples, and most major cities have cases dating back well into the 20th century. Detroit, MI is no exception--but they are unique in their solution.

In Detroit, multiple agencies, including the DPD, FBI, medical examiner, and anthropologists from across the state have joined forces as Operation UNITED (Unknown Names Identified Through Exhumation and DNA)--and case by case, they are working to re-identify each victim and return them to their loved ones.

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Submit a case to The Fall Line: https://www.thefalllinepodcast.com/case-submissions

Written, researched, and hosted by Laurah Norton, with research assistance from Bryan Worters, Kyana Burgess, and Michaela Morrill/Interviews by Brooke Hargrove/Produced, scored, and engineered by Maura Currie/Line-editor Bill Bertschinger/ Content advisors are Brandy C. Williams, Liv Fallon, and Vic Kennedy/ Theme music by RJR/Special thanks to Angie Dodd

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